At a Death Track Dolls Karaoke fundraiser while all the spirits were high and the voices were raised in full gear fuelled by good beer and good food and cake at a certain Korean premise downtown, a certain player asked me to the effect: “You’re always looking through the camera, so how do you watch the game?”

The inference was with the photographer so focused on the shot and looking through the viewfinder—so how do we watch the game?

Staring into her questioning eyes gave me pause for thought because this is one player—a veteran of CN Power and green and black— you would not want to cross.

On the microcosmic scale of things, granted, for starters, we look for the hit, the air, that type of thing—but that’s not the whole game. So how do we watch the game?

One makes it a point to know the Derby as best as we can. We read the WFTDA rulebook, gander over postings by scads of Derby players with their own insights and daily lives, however, these are all from the inside. So how do we watch the game?

There’s the fuel, the adrenaline engendered by the players on the track and the atmosphere in the game, the incessant shouts of “Get louder!” or “Lead jammer!” or the play by play provided by expert or inexpert announcers [who by their nature call the play without giving away insight to either team]. So how do we watch the game?

Heaven knows it is definitely for the passion of it all by everybody concerned. It has definitely nothing to do with money—what money—from the sport. There has been more than the occasional times when the players and the leagues have opened their generosity or tried their best to be accommodating, going miles out of their way. So how do we watch the game?

There are those who do it with a detachment to it—it’s just an assignment or a job with a chance to show off by the gearheads. But that’s not me. And not true for others who invest their vacation times or time off from the daily job to travel state to state to get to their various annual places to be, tournaments to shoot. For you Americans who may read this one day, it’s a little different up here with the scale of things. Leagues are more localized. There’s no “Minnesota” or “Kansas”, nothing that would encompass a whole province. Tournaments up here do not quite have the aura of history yet. But it does build. Beast of the East out in Montreal. Quad City Chaos in Toronto. New traditions in the bud, West and East and North and South across the country. The launch of the World Cup 2011 in Toronto, Canada, eh? But that is all digression to how do I watch the game? True, I’m going through my second Nikon [after the first one birthed and died in the cause of Whip It!] just bought last July and already past its half life in the line of Derby, but it came with a price. I still use the same lenses I used in my film days shooting in the likes of the Rivoli or the Cabana [maybe not quite the Cabana] or the ElMo or Maple Leaf Gardens or The Exhibition or The Diamond or The Skydome or Molson Park or even Molson Amphitheatre where I first got introduced to the concept of autofocus lenses. And every little extra piece of gear or reinvention that has been an investment to making the pictures that much better have come with a cost. I do the best to try to be the best with what I’ve got. Heaven knows, again I know, I’m not the best but as in the case with all the ladies on the track, we do the best we can and we try to get better.. It’s not the money that shoots, it’s the photographer and the experience. So how do I watch the game?

I watch to get the light, the moment, the mood, the focus. You cannot capture everything on the track all at once, so you anticipate their moment in time in that space when everything comes together, all the preparation and all the mental calculations and all the decisiveness, to tell the story you want to tell. Whether it be about that player, that referee, that NSO, that coach, that volunteer, that person selling the merch, the food, the beer, however again we digress. So back to the track. Which is probably what she meant in the first place. So how do I watch the game? For that instant in time which builds to eternity until the clock winds down and beyond, I watch it for the love of the game.

/… thanks to the epicness of jnr8 and dz for their suggestions and words

While we’re at it – the three rules of Quad City Chaos

2. Always have everything you want within reach. You’re never going to find it otherwise.

3. Murphy’s Law is for losers.